The closer hospitals adhere to national guidelines for treating potential heart attack patients, the greater the decline in their mortality rates, according to a analysis of treatment patterns at 315 U.S. hospitals by Duke Clinical Research Institute researchers.
The analysis is among the first of its kind to definitively link hospitals improvement in use of guideline-recommended treatments with concomitant reductions in hospital death rates. These findings should provide compelling scientific evidence that quality improvement initiatives are worth it, and translate into significant savings in patients lives, the researchers said. "These findings should be a strong motivation to people, who until now found it difficult to commit to quality improvement initiatives without evidence that they work," said cardiologist Eric Peterson, M.D., who presented the results of the Duke analysis Nov. 10, 2004, at the annual scientific sessions of American Heart Association (AHA) in New Orleans. "This study shows what a profound influence quality improvement can have on saving patients lives."
The study involved analyzing reports of hospitals adherence to treatment guidelines and mortality rates over a two-year period, from 2002 to 2003. "When we looked at the hospitals as a group at the beginning, they were almost indistinguishable from each other in their capabilities and services offered," said Peterson "The only difference was that over time some changed their practices according to the guidelines and others did not. "However, when we then looked at how mortality rates changed from baseline to the latest quarter, what we found was remarkable," he continued. "Those hospitals that were the worst at following the guidelines saw their mortality rates increase, while those hospitals that had the largest improvement in adherence had the greatest decrease in mortality rates. We believe this is the best argument for hospitals to devote the necessary time and effort into improving their systems for taking care of these patients."
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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